Changes to striped bass regulations in Maryland

By Rich King
Posted 2/14/24

It’s been such a mild winter this year. There are many options for freshwater fishing. I’ve even seen a snakehead or two caught. The fact you must explain to the nonanglers that fish do …

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Changes to striped bass regulations in Maryland


It’s been such a mild winter this year. There are many options for freshwater fishing. I’ve even seen a snakehead or two caught. The fact you must explain to the nonanglers that fish do feed in winter is a little odd to funny. Fish eat year-round, they are just slower in winter. I’ve even seen a few crabs on warm days around the back bays of the inland bays, in the mud scurrying about.

Bass are being teased up with a variety of chatter baits and larger baits. I love the fact freshwater anglers finally went big with plugs. Those whopper ploppers or big glide baits do the job. I gave a buddy a big, five-ounce Tsunami swim shad one day (years ago) and he looked at it and said what do you want me to do with this beast? I said cast that out there and catch a big fish. That little lure is mostly going to produce those smaller “dink” bass. Fish are programmed by nature to know that a small fish meal is not worth the chase. The fish will expel more energy catching that little meal than they gain back. I assume we all know when a fish catches another fish it isn’t for release. I mean fish are friends in some cases but not at the dinner table.

A Maryland DNR press release Feb. 9 announced: “Striped bass emergency regulations submitted by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to bolster the species’ spawning population were approved today by the Maryland General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review, and are effective immediately. The emergency regulations extend periods of closure to recreational striped bass fishing in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay. Targeting of striped bass will be prohibited from April 1 to May 15, eliminating the Maryland striped bass trophy season. In the Susquehanna Flats, targeting of striped bass is prohibited through the end of May. For the Chesapeake Bay recreational fishery, which includes charter boat fishing, the addendum implements a 19-inch to 24-inch slot limit and a bag limit of one fish per person, per day. For the ocean recreational fishery, the addendum implements a 28-inch to 31-inch slot limit and a coastwide daily bag limit of one fish. For the commercial fishery, the addendum reduces commercial quotas by 7% in both the ocean and the Bay.”

No one likes to hear this, but it is about time they put in real protections for the Chesapeake Bay striped bass stocks.

A senator in Maryland has proposed amending a bill to change the name of snakeheads, in order to get people more comfortable with eating these fish. The original proposed name change was “Patuxent Fish” and the other choice is “Chesapeake Channa.” That isn’t how that works, but it is an interesting idea. Snakehead is good eating, but they are invasive and very detrimental to waterways. There have been studies showing how snakeheads have changed the fishery in the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Here in Delaware our small ponds get totally dominated and the snakeheads eat nearly everything. I think one issue that didn’t help is when tournaments were set up to promote the removal of these fish, they went for largest to win instead of the most poundage. So then everyone wanted a massive fish for the fight and possible tournament winnings. Maybe we will get lucky and the out-of-control blue catfish will start wearing out the snakeheads. It’s doubtful, but you never know. Blue catfish are a serious problem as well. Catch and kill is my philosophy with any invasive species. Ironically the most invasive species that are not regulated or kept in check are humans. Humans are the only species in the Animal Kingdom that can wipe out every species on the planet, or we can also not. We have that power. We know better, so do better.

Speaking of blue catfish this is from Maryland DNR: “Maryland Department of Natural Resources Offers Grants for Invasive Fish Removal: We are accepting applications for invasive fish control grants of up to $5,000. This grant program seeks to support effective ways to remove invasive fish, particularly blue catfish and Northern snakeheads, from Maryland waters and identify sustained beneficial uses of caught fish. The application deadline is April 15, 2024, and awards will be announced in early May.”

The thing I love about Maryland is they have a multitude of departments and people working on all kinds of projects, not to mention the diversity of their fishery and fishing areas. Trout fishing in Maryland is on point, especially fly fishing the rivers.

Trout ponds in Delaware — Tidbury and Newton ponds — are being stocked for the March opening. Kids will once again get the first shot the day before the adults. I love this. Thank you, DNREC. Opening day is bad enough with crowds, and kids need some space to enjoy fishing instead of being involved in the insanity of opening day in some areas. If you want to get kids into fishing, you have to give them the space to catch and the chance to learn the right way. Now if we could just add a couple more ponds to this stocked pond list that would be great.

Boaters beware, the inland bay around Massey’s Landing and Ditch is filling in more and more, so it’s going to be interesting out there this year. Or there will be more sand bars for the drinking crowd. It depends how you look at it.

Short striped bass are still fun action if you can find them around the warmer tidal waters. White perch is on the menu as usual this time of year. Use minnows or bloodworms if you can find them.

Winter flounder season started Feb. 11. I’m still going to try and catch a few this year if I get a hot minute to go fishing on a decent day. If it could stop raining that would be great. If you are looking for a little help planning a fishing trip, check out the Solunar Calendar. There is an app for that, too. Using the sun, moon and tides is a must to plan trips. If you are like me, I just go fishing when I have the time. But when you are planning months ahead, this helps a great deal to help increase your chances of catching.

If you are out bait shop sailing, check out Captain Bones. They have a new line of jigging rods just added to their arsenal. Check shops’ winter hours before dropping by. This is that time of year for quick preseason vacations.

Bowers Bayside Bait and Kayak Rentals will open April 6. Bowers is a fun place to fish, even right now.

Spring is not far away, we are halfway through February. See you in the sandbox soon.

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